Jerusalem (Jan. 16)
The Arab press reports today that a Jewish company has leased from Emir Abdullah of Transjordania, 55,000 dunams of his own land for a period of ninety-nine years.
This report is taken very seriously in Arab circles and the Arab National Party has called a meeting in Jerusalem “for fighting the Zionist danger.”
The Jewish Agency Executive declines to make any comment upon this report. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learns, however, from a most reliable source, that while the Arab reports are based on inadequate information. they nevertheless have basis in fact.
It is known that the Jewish Agency Executive has been following closely the developments in Transjordania for a considerable period. Important steps have been taken, it is understood, which may ultimately develop into historic significance, but these steps cannot be made public at present, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency understands.
The problem of the Jewish position in Transjordan and the total exclusion of Jews from that territory has been repeatedly discussed at most of the Zionist Congresses and the sessions of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations ever since September 1922 when the Council of the League approved certain exceptions to the Mandate in the form of an Annex to the Mandate. This latter document excluded Transjordan from the operation of those provisions of the Mandate which related to the Jewish National Home. It has been since pointed out, and notably in a memorandum submitted by the Jewish Agency to the British Government in May 1930, that the “Annex to the Mandate…relieves the Administration of Transjordan of the obligation…to encourage Jewish immigration…but it certainly does not admit the establishment of conditions depriving Jews of equal rights with all other inhabitants of Palestine, or all other nationals of States Members of the League.” Nevertheless, although movement of Arabs from Western to Eastern Palestine (Transjordan) and vice versa has been unrestricted, the Transjordan Government has made it impossible for Jews to purchase land or develop industries in that territory.
After the publication of the Shaw and Simpson Reports which claimed that there was not a sufficiency of land available for extensive Jewish settlement in Palestine, the importance of Transjordan as a land reserve became a subject of wide interest and agitation. In a memorandum submitted, in June 1931 by the Vaad Leumi (General Council of the Jewish Community of Palestine) while contesting the conclusions of these Reports declared: “…the millions of dunams of fertile land in Transjordan must also be taken into consideration. This land now lies desolate and there is no economic justification for its exclusion from the area of Palestine. Under article 25 of the Mandate of the League, that territory forms part of Palestine.”
During the past few months there have been persistent reports of efforts by prominent Transjordanians to interest Jews in the purchase of lands in Transjordan, with a view to relieving the distress in that area. On January 1st it was reported that a number of Arab leaders in Transjordan had submitted a memorandum to the native government petitioning for the abolition of the law which made it impossible to sell land to aliens, a law generally understood to be directed at Jews.